The Next Stars of Burgundy

Burgundy has been pumping out wine since before the Magna Carta was written. But that doesn't mean that there's nothing left to discover. Jon Bonné on the ten rising star winemakers who are shaping the region's future.

Winemakers Shaping Burgundy Wine Today

Its shifting economics mean that Burgundy isn’t quite the geek’s playground it once was. Doesn’t matter. There’s so much energy and change all along the Côte d’Or that at times it feels like an emerging region, rather than a place that already had established vineyards when the Magna Carta was written.

That change is happening at old properties and new. You can find it at the large négociants (Eve and Erwan Faiveley taking over their family’s house; Frédéric Barnier now installed at Louis Jadot) and in tiny micronégoce cellars. There are orderly transitions at famous houses like Domaine Dujac, where the Seysses brothers and cellarmaster Diana Snowden Seysses are in command; or at Hudelot-Nöellat, where Charles van Canneyt has managed to improve on his grandfather’s work. And if the old Burgundy was about trying to make a go of estate bottling and elevating the family name, today the world notices talent—and fast. “Now, if there’s a new vigneron who gets good scores?” says Arnaud Mortet. “Boom. They’re stars.”

There are so many examples of standout work, like Maxime Cheurlin’s efforts at Domaine Georges Nöellat, in the heart of Vosne; the diligent work by Fanny Sabre in Pommard; Albert Bichot’s pristine Beaune wines at Domaine des Clos; and tiny newcomers like Maison Harbour. But the ten wineries below represent a cross-section of what’s most exciting about Burgundy right now.

Benoît Ente

Ente took his grandfather’s domaine in 1990 and ran it with his aunt, who asked him to retake her portion of vines in 2013. He doesn’t have grand cru land, like many top domaines in Puligny and Chassagne do, but he does have very good premier cru holdings, including Clos de la Truffière, plus some exceptional old parcels outside the village appellation that he uses in his stunningly good aligoté and Bourgogne Blanc. His wines are aromatic and intense in the best of Burgundy’s modern white-wine style in that they show “volume but not fat,” in his words.

Cecile Tremblay

Despite the family tie to Burgundian royalty—her great-uncle Henri Jayer might be its most cherished producer of the 20th century—Tremblay’s wines continue to stay out of the zeitgeist, perhaps because she herself is very low-key. Her style is a bit more structured (there’s usually some whole clusters) and less lavish than Jayer, but as he did with Cros Parantoux, she finds stunning complexity in some less-popular climats, like Aux Echanges in Chambolle and Les Beaux Monts in Vosne.

Domaine Denis Mortet

This Gevrey domaine was founded in 1992, when Denis and his brother Thierry decided to split. Denis’ son, Arnaud, suddenly found himself in charge after his father’s untimely death in 2006, and today the wines here are a perfect example of that Burgundian sweet spot—highly respected, and yet just shy of the crazy-cash tier. You can detect the domaine’s particular mix of nuance—a ripeness and completion to its fruit flavors, matched to a sort of prim muskiness—not just in great wines like his Mazis-Chambertin, but in the more modest Gevrey Vieilles Vignes, too.

Berthaut-Gerbet

You may still see these wines as Domaine Denis Berthaut, but as of last vintage, Amélie Berthaut has combined her father’s property in Fixin with that of her mother’s family, in Vosne-Romanée. A seventh-generation winemaker, Amélie trained in Bordeaux and Napa and brings a generosity and softness to her wines from Fixin, an appellation that is typically known for its austerity. Her Les Clos, for instance, from a village parcel, mixes a cool aloe side with full, fleshy fruit. (And her Vosne wines have just enough of that appellation’s dark, wet-earth aspect.)

Chanterêves

Tomoko Kuriyama started out making not Burgundy but riesling, at Friedrich Altenkirch in the Rheingau, which is where I encountered her talent. She later moved to Burgundy and married Guillaume Bott (who’s also doing great work at Domaine Simon Bize), and together they run this small effort in a cellar built on his parents’ land in Savigny-lès-Beaune. They buy from a range of villages and the flavors are decisive and clean; their Pommard and Volnay are particularly noteworthy, with almost seemingly switching personalities—the former unusually floral and subtle, the latter darker and spicy.

Domaine Bachelet-Monnot

Everyone is on the lookout for Burgundy’s next white-wine star (i.e., the new Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey), and brothers Marc and Alexandre Bachelet, who created this property in 2005 from their father’s and uncle’s land, are quietly making a solid claim. Their low-key winery is in Dezize-lès-Maranges, at the southern tip of the Côte de Beaune, but their vineyards represent a great cross-section of Puligny, Chassagne and Meursault. Theirs is winemaking in the current, structure-minded style—lots of air for the juice, fermenting in larger barrels, finishing in steel. The wines have both character and precision, which is evident even in their village-level Puligny.

Le Grappin

When there’s fretting talk about foreign money in Burgundy, I suspect the Australian-British couple Andrew and Emma Nielsen are not what people have in mind. They make a range of modest wines from Beaune and south, including a lavish and rare white Beaune-Grèves. Under their Du Grappin label, they also make Mâcon-Villages and Beaujolais, much of which is sold in “bagnums.” A miniscule two-person winery in the last old cellar in downtown Beaune, bottling Beaujolais rosé in double-sized bags—in case you needed more evidence that Burgundy isn’t exactly resting on tradition.

Domaine Alain Burguet

Brothers Jean-Luc and Eric Burguet have done great work in taking a minimalist approach—no added yeast or sugar, just a bit of sulfur—at their father’s domaine. They have access to a glorious range of Côte de Nuits fruit, but even their relatively large-production Gevrey, Mes Favorites, shows a black tea and bayberry generosity that is (dare I say) reminiscent of Jayer’s pure-flavored style.

Domaine des Croix

David Croix’s dream is to make people understand the great value of Beaune, which, despite being Burgundy’s center of winemaking, has generally fallen short in terms of the appeal of its own wines. He’s making an excellent case with parcels like the premier crus Pertuisots and Savigny’s Les Peuillets. The wines are full of savory spice and deep fruit character. They’re also ever more ambitiously priced, which is to say that Croix’s message about Beaune terroir is being heard.

Nicolas Faure

Over and over again, other vignerons told me to visit Bordeaux-born Faure, who is one of Burgundy’s most captivating new personalities. His day jobs have been impressive—before working as a “tractoriste” at Domaine Prieuré-Roch, he was in the cellar at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, all while acquiring several smidgens of land for himself. He may have the smallest cellar in Burgundy, where he shows that some of the naturalist tendencies (semi-carbonic maceration, very low sulfur) can succeed in the region, at least in wines like his Mes Gamay, from an old-vine parcel on the east side of the Route Nationale in Premeaux-Prissey, not far from several important Nuits-Saint-Georges premiers crus.

Social Image via Stefano Lubiana/Flickr.

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